2 weeks ago, one of my Key staff in fact a person I have been training for 3 years to replace myself was head hunted and decided to go with the offer given to him. This was a shock and a blow not only to myself, but to clients and fellow employees. So how does a business recover from this?
In the IT trade, moving jobs is a common occurrence. This is not something I am proud to express, but it is a fact. So many people are working on contract today, and the demand for quality programmers is so high, that contracts constantly overlap each other, that a person can really choose not only where they wish to work, but the type of IT work that they wish to do. So at all times I prepare for staff to leave and make sure that all people duplicate each other and that all information is recorded.
We have systems that cover for staff turnover. So the core work is always being achieved, and clients are not being disadvantaged by changes of staff in a technical sense. However the human sense is affected.
This occurrence can cause impact on current staff, as they have to learn to work with a new staff member.
So one part of the solution to this problem, is that for core work, you need to have good systems, in fact a good database. What can you expect from such a system? A CRM or customer relationship management systems can control not only your customer, but generally link the data you need to retain about your customer, your contacts, your quotes, your invoices can link to this as well if it is a good system.
At Accede we have recently been interfacing off the shelf CRM’s to Accounting products, estimation packages and other products. By creating this interface for the client, it is a seamless way to see the whole of the customer’s information.
Other places I have created solutions for include knowledge based systems. These systems in fact hold expertise, experience etc. from key people. Knowledge bases for a user is like talking to the expert about a problem. The knowledge base take a person through a potential issue, what questions they should ask, what possible answers they may get, and what to do next. It is a like having the expert right beside you without having them there. I have noticed, however, that this is generally the main reason that the loss of Key staff is hugely impacting.
The other part of the equation, being the human affect, is solved only by communication. This communication is essential if you wish to retain clients, build new clients and retain existing staff members.
Losing staff and clients is a fact and generally not in your control (unless you need to review your management). However retaining clients and staff is something you need to constantly work on. The key to this retention is communication. Take the time. Discuss. Share. Find ways to openly communicate in a respectful manner. Praise where praise is due. Discuss problems without being personal or denigrating. Work as a team.
Insurance of key staff, often helps with the financial aspect, but good systems will help with the core work and management. Plus make sure your staff’s work is overlapped, so that people can take holidays and the loss of a staff member can quickly be covered.
Cate Schafing is a successful Australian business woman in the IT field serving as CEO of Accede Holdings Pty. Ltd. makers of Ezymeetz, ICE and Virtual Gym. She develops innovative new technological products as a programmer and entrepreneur. In gratitude for her success her company supports NFP’s by donating $5000 per month in programming time for NFP’s requesting work.